FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

813-884-5610

What questions should you ask balloon ride companies?

Ask if they actually do the flight or do they just issue ride certificates?  How long have they been flying balloons?  How many hours of flight time do they have?  Are they insured?  What is their safety record?  How long have they been flying in the area?  What days a week are they available?

How much does a balloon ride cost?

We specialize in sweetheart flights for two at a cost of $525.00 per couple, only you and the pilot are in the basket, no shared basket.  Shared basket balloon rides are available from other companies in the area.

How long do balloon rides last?

Balloon rides last about an hour depending on flight conditions and landing sites, sometimes the flight may be a little longer or shorter.

What is the minimum age to take a ride in a balloon?

The minimum age is the age at which the child can see over the edge of the basket.

What if I need to go to the bathroom?

Planning is the key here.  Our meeting place affords the opportunity to use a restroom and a couple of our launch sites have facilities available.

Is there a hole in the top of the balloon?

Yes there is a hole in the top of the balloon.  It is designed with a top cap that fits in the hole and is used inflight, landing and deflation.

How do you get in the basket?

Our baskets have steps and we have step stools to assist you in getting in the basket.  We also have other techniques as needed.

Can a handicapped person fly in a balloon?

Depending on several factors, including the nature of the handicap and any special equipment associated with the handicap.   An attendant (provided by the passenger) is required to fly with the handicapped passenger if assistance is needed.

Why do flights take place so early in the morning?

Balloons need stable winds to operate effectively and the hours just after sunrise are the best for finding these winds. Since balloons move with the air, the weather is very important in deciding to whether or not to fly. Our pilots chooses a launch site to use based on wind currents to fly towards a suitable landing site.

What kind of material is the balloon made of?

The colorful envelope is usually made of high-tenasity rip-stop nylon.  It is very tightly woven and is coated with a material that makes it very a. The nylon is only used to keep the hot air in the balloon. The basket load is transferred by steel or Kevlar cables to a series of vertical load tapes which carry the load.  Our balloons range in size from about  54,000 to 105,000 cubic ft. capable of carrying up to 4 passengers.

Why is the basket made of wicker?

The wicker basket has proven to be very strong for its weight and is flexible. The wicker is sometimes woven around a steel or aluminum frame, which helps to support the upright posts upon which the burner is mounted. The top rim of the basket and the uprights are usually padded and covered in suede or leather.

How is the balloon inflated?

When the time comes to put the balloon up, the envelope is removed from the bag and laid out in a long line. The burners are attached to the uprights, and the basket is attached to the cables on the bottom of the envelope. An engine driven fan is used to inflate the envelope with cold air. When the envelope is mostly inflated, the air is heated by a burner and the envelope rises above the basket.  After passengers are onboard the air is heated more to get ready for flight.

What kind of fuel is used for the burners?

To heat the air, the burners are fueled by propane gas, much the same as you probably use in your backyard barbecue grill. The burners do not run continuously; they are only used intermittently to heat the air to maintain the required lift.

How tall are balloons?

Depending on the size of the balloon, it may be as tall as 75 feet.  Special shape balloons that we fly is about 145 ft. tall.

What should I wear?

You should wear whatever you feel comfortable in on the ground. No open toes shoes or high heels. You should wear the type of clothing that you would expect to wear if you be going for a walk the day of the flight.  Dresses, skirts or kilts may not be practical so pants or shorts would be appropriate as well as layered clothing.  The majority of top clothing should be made of cotton rather than man-made fibers. Tall passengers may find a hat useful because of the radiant heat from the burners.

Can I take a camera?

Yes, there is no problem in taking either a still or video camera with you during the flight. A hot air balloon makes a perfect camera platform and there is always plenty to photograph prior to, during and after to the flight. We do recommend, however, that you have a suitable soft case with you in which to stow the camera prior to the landing phase of the flight.

How long does it all take?

From start to finish, your adventure will last about 3 – 4 hours depending on launch and landing sites. The inflation and preparation of the balloon normally takes about 30 minutes. The flight itself normally takes around one hour. After the flight, we will go to a local restaurant for breakfast.  The balloons carry sufficient fuel for at least 1.5 hours flight time plus a 30 minute reserve capacity.

Where will we land?

The simple answer is the ground! The pilot will have done flight planning before the launch to ensure that the forecast wind direction does not take the balloon towards an unsuitable area. S/he will use the different air currents at different altitudes to steer the balloon toward a good landing place. The pilot also closely follows agreements with local landowners and local laws. This means that the balloon won’t fly too close to livestock or land in areas planted with valuable crops.

How far will we fly?

It depends on the wind speed. Hot Air Balloons travel with the wind and an hour flight can carry it up to 10 miles, sometimes more, sometimes less. The balloon also flies at different altitudes. Although the balloon is at the mercy of the wind when it comes to direction, the vertical control of a balloon can be very precise. It is not unusual for our pilots to be able to brush the bottom of the basket across the tops of brush, or inches from the ground A leaf picked from a treetop is a very worthwhile souvenir of the flight.

How does the chase crew know where we are?

We use airborne trackers as well as radios to stay in contact with the chase crew and other aircraft flying in the vicinity.

How high do balloons fly?

Most balloonists enjoy low level flight. The typical balloon flight would be anywhere from tree level to about 3,000 feet above the ground.

What if I’m afraid of heights?

Flying in a high sided balloon basket is not like standing on a roof or a high ladder. You don’t get that vertigo feeling. It is more like the ground is unfolding beneath you, and, because you are moving with the wind, there is no wind blowing. The basket does not normally rock or sway.

I sometimes get airsick in airplanes. Is a balloon the same?

No. The turbulence which usually causes motion sickness is completely absent in a balloon ride. The flight of a balloon is almost too smooth to describe.

What about if I get vertigo?

A balloon flight is very gentle and stable and because you start from the ground and gently lift off.  The sensation is very different from fixed wing aircraft flight and is unlikely to cause vertigo.

How do we get back our car?

The balloon is followed by a chase vehicle and the crew. They are in constant contact with the balloon pilot by radio and should be at the landing site at the same time as the balloon. Once the balloon is packed away (and the ceremonies are complete) the chase vehicle will take you back to your car.

How are balloon pilots licensed?

Balloons are registered aircraft and are subject to regular airworthiness inspections. The FAA will not allow a balloon to be certified as airworthy unless these inspections are done by authorized maintenance personnel and certified by them.  All pilots are licensed by the FAA and have to pass regular flight checks.

Who controls ballooning and ensures safety standards?

The Federal Aviation Administration controls ballooning with the same strict regulations that apply to airplanes.

Who can fly a balloon? 

The Federal Aviation Administration issues a Balloon Pilot Certificate to candidates who pass an FAA written examination, obtain a prescribed number of hours in a balloon, make a solo flight to altitude and pass a flight test.  You to can learn to fly a hot air balloon.

How do you steer a balloon? 

At different altitudes there are different wind directions and speeds so the balloon will goe wherever the wind takes it. However, pilots can seek higher or lower altitudes to find wind currents of various direction. It is a form of sailing.

Is it cold in a balloon? 

At high altitude, it is colder than at ground level, generally 3.5 degrees cooler for each 1,000 feet of altitude.

What are the best conditions for flight in a balloon? 

A balloon flies better in cooler weather since the hot air gets a better “lift.” Balloonists usually fly just after dawn or before dusk, because there is less wind at these times.  As close as our flying area is to the coast we are affected by sea breezes and don’t fly in the afternoon.

How large are hot air balloons? 

Most balloons are larger than your house. Our balloons hold from 54,000 to 77,000 cubic feet of air and are from 60 to 75 feet tall.

How does a hot air balloon differ from a gas balloon?

A hot air balloon gets its lift from heating the air. A gas balloon gets its lift from lighter than air gases, usually helium or hydrogen.

What are the baskets balloons made of? 

Because weight is critical in balloon flying, the baskets are made of light materials such as wicker, composites then stainless steel for strength.

Do balloons wear out?

If cared for properly, a balloon envelope should last approximately 500 flying hours.

What instruments do balloons use? 

Instruments used in our balloons include an altimeter to indicate altitude, a variometer showing its rate of climb or decent,  and a temperature gage to show how hot the air is at the top of the balloon. Each propane tank has a fuel gauge, and the burner has a fuel pressure gauge.  Handheld GPS’s are also carried but are not required.

Do you have a question not answered or want more information?  Give us a call at 813-884-5610